In 2011, the year Christi and John Rooke adopted two of their five children, the Pittsburgh couple filed for an adoption tax credit — $13,000 for each daughter who joined their family.
The couple used the $26,000 combined credit to pay off their debt, and to buy a 12-seat passenger van and a pop-up camper to take their family on cross-country adventures.
Though it may sound like a windfall, Christi Rooke said the family is strapped much of the time.
She and her husband work flexible jobs so someone is always home with the children, who have an array of needs resulting from foster care and the circumstances that got them there, she said. All five of the children, ages 3 to 14, were adopted through Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.
“The adoption tax credit didn’t necessarily help us in the process to actually adopt, but rather it has helped us with all the expenses after the adoption,” said Christi Rooke, a nurse. “We were able to purchase items and experiences that we otherwise would not have been able to afford.”
Each year, as the tax filing deadline approaches, thousands of families who adopted the year before collect receipts and tally adoption-related expenses for the credit. For the 2014 tax year, taxpayers could apply for up to $13,190.
The adoption tax credit was designed to help families offset adoption costs, which typically range from $10,000 to $30,000. Though it costs far less to adopt through the child welfare system, as the Rookes did, these families often face far greater post-adoption expenses.